Easiest way to forget about Thursday’s night’s debacle is for the Nashville Predators to take care of business against the Sharks.
It’s been a rough past 36 hours having to dissect why the Nashville Predators completely fell apart against the Colorado Avalanche after holding a 3-2 lead early in the 2nd period. They’d go onto to lose 9-4.
The Predators can’t let this game leak over into a long losing streak and develop into something bigger. Despite the shocking and humbling lopsided loss, the Predators are still tied for second place in the Central Division and have all the pieces to remain in the mix for a third-straight division crown.
Next up we have the San Jose Sharks tonight, a team that’s performed well-short of preseason expectations up to this point. They have won their last two games to bring their record to 6-10-1 with a goal differential of minus-17. Are they as bad as their record indicates or is it somewhat of a fluke?
Who San Jose leans on
The Sharks have no shortage of superstar talent on their team, which is why their spot in the standings is so surprising. They have Evander Kane on their top line, a player who draws spotlight and can rip a team’s heart out with big time goals. He’s already up to ten goals and 15 points through 14 games played. He’s enemy No.1.
More from Predlines
- Nashville Predators 2023 Training Camp Spotlight: Kiefer Sherwood
- Captain Candidates if Nashville Predators Didn’t Have Roman Josi
- The All-Time 25 Games or Less Nashville Predators Lineup
- Nashville Predators 2023 Training Camp Spotlight: Cody Glass
- Joakim Kemell Flashes his Offense in Nashville Predators Loss to Tampa
Defensively the Sharks have Brent Burns, one of the league’s best defenseman. He won the Norris Trophy in 2017 and was runner-up last season. He makes things happen on offense and is one of the biggest frames in the league. With 13 assists already, he’s tied with a few others for second-most among defensemen.
Of course the Sharks have their classic veterans in Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau. Both of their best days are well behind them, but these two obviously can’t be overlooked. They’re both still very dangerous players and make the Sharks third line formidable.
Then you have Tomas Hertl, a 74-point scorer last season and leading the Sharks in scoring currently. Not a household name, but he’s built a solid career in his six-plus seasons with San Jose as he anchors the team’s second line at center.
The Sharks are struggling big time at goaltender, which is probably why they’re not where we expected them to be in the standings. They have to get this area figured out quickly with Martin Jones and Aaron Dell, who both have save percentages below 90 and giving up over 3.5 goals per game.
How these two matchup
The Predators already have one win over the Sharks this season, coming back on October 8th in Nashville. It was just third game of the season for the Predators and it came in pretty dominating fashion in a 5-2 win. Two goals came from Roman Josi, and Pekka Rinne stoned San Jose with 33 saves against 35 shots.
This time around the Sharks seem to be playing a little better. Perhaps they’re starting to get back to form and play up to lofty expectations. I don’t expect this matchup to reflect each team’s current records. Both teams should come out ticked off for different reasons and play aggressive.
I haven’t seen a starting goaltender announced as of now, but I’d love to see Juuse Saros get the nod. He’s due for a gem performance. I refuse to think he’s going to stay on this rocky road that has his season record at 1-4. If the Predators do go with Rinne, hopefully he has forgotten about by far his worst showing of the year.
This is a game where the Predators revamped power play is going to be tested as the Sharks have the best penalty kill in the NHL. They’ve killed off over 90 percent of the opponent’s power play opportunities. In return, the Predators’ power play has crossed into the top half of the league at 21 percent.
I want to see the top guns of the Predators rally around each other and come alive for this one. Players like Roman Josi, Filip Forsberg and Matt Duchene. The bottom six has played well and done their job for the most part, but it’s time for a coming out party for the top players on this roster. They need to put together a 60-minute game, which they haven’t done much of lately.
I’m taking the Predators to win this one in a rare grudge match that’s fairly low-scoring. Hopefully the Predators have made it a point of emphasis after Thursday night’s nightmare to clamp down defensively and make some major adjustments. I think they do that here and hold the Sharks below three goals again and win this one 3-2.
The Predators are a rollercoaster team. They follow up ugly performances with dominating performances in the other direction. The Sharks may have a two-game winning streak, but they’re catching the Predators at a bad time when they should be laser focused to take care of business and put together a complete game.